Skip Navigation LinksCanneryInspectionProgram

Food and Drug Branch (FDB)

 FDB Home Page


Main Telephone:

(800) 495-3232




Address (Courier Delivery):

California Department of Public Health - Food and Drug Branch

1500 Capitol Ave, MS 7602

Sacramento, CA 95814


Address (Non-Courier Delivery):

California Department of Public Health - Food and Drug Branch

P.O. Box 997435, MS 7602

Sacramento, CA 95899

Cannery Inspection and Licensing Program

Low-acid foods are regulated by FDB’s Cannery Inspection Program.  Low-acid food processors (canneries) must comply with California and federal requirements. Canneries are required to operate under a valid Cannery License that is renewed every two years. Canneries engaged in general food processing activities must also operate under a valid Processed Food Registration (PFR). Canneries that need a PFR are not required to pay both license fees, however canneries must pay costs associated with cannery inspections.

What is considered a low-acid food?

Scientists classify foods based on particular characteristics.  Foods such as vegetables, milk, meat, and seafood are considered “low-acid foods” because they have naturally low acid levels.  The acidity of a food can relate to its safety and should be a concern for food processors.

Low-acid foods have pH (acid) values greater than 4.6 and water activity (aw) greater than 0.85.  Low-acid foods are important because when they are processed and placed into sealed/air-tight containers such as cans, pouches, or jars, and not stored under temperature control, they can allow the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the organism that causes botulism. 

The foods can be made safely when processed with proper heat or acidification.  Low-acid food products must receive prior evaluation and approval from the Food and Drug Branch (FDB) to determine the need or acidification or thermal processing.  Certain food products, such as herbs or vegetables in olive oil, can only be manufactured safely by the addition of an acidifying agent. 

Additional Information and Questions

Click here to learn how to obtain a cannery license or see the helpful links below.

Still have additional questions?  Please view our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for inquiries made to FDB from canneries.

Page Last Updated :